Jennifer and Eric's Halloween Party 2018


Jennifer and Eric's Halloween Party Roll Call!

1. Jennifer
2. Eric
3. Hope
4. Chase
5. Ian

6. Eric's mom whose name I forget
7. LeRoy, Eric's stepdad
8. Dad
9. Sherri
10. Matthew (me)
11. Aunt Raenae
12. Toni Marie
13. James
14. Thayer [Toni and James's second]
15. Kylar [Toni and James's third]
16. Kellan (Jame's nephew)
17. Brian (Eric's brother)
18. Nick (Eric's brother)
19. Briana {Nick's wife)
20. Nick and Briana's daughter
21. Nick and Briana's son
22. Amanda, Jennifer's friend
23. Audra (Jennifer's work friend)
24. Avery (Audra's daughter)
25. Audra's son
26. his girlfriend
27. Carolyn (Jennifer's work friend)
28. Ashley (Jennifer's work friend)
29. Josiah (Hope's friend)
30. Another friend of Hope's
31. Another friend of Hope's
32. Another friend of Hope's

[other people identified by tags in Eric's Facebook photos but I do not otherwise know who they are]
33. Randy
35. Julie
36. Julie's presumed husband
37. Julie and presume'd husband's presumed son
38. Ted
39. Sharon
40. Guy in "Zombie Hunter" T-shirt
41. That guy's presumed wife, in gypsy costume
42. Marilyn
43. Another woman who came with Marilyn
44. Guy in Dracula costume
45. That guy's presumed wife, in masquerade mask
46. Their presumed daughter

Just a few notes about this list:

*For last year's Halloween part, I did only a roll call for the people I knew, which numbered 21. I did say then that "there could very well have been forty," and I think this year there may have been slightly more. I managed the above number by consulting who was tagged in photos Eric posted to the Facebook event page he had created to invite everyone; on that page, incidentally, 56 had been invited. 20 had RSVPed that they were coming and 17 were "maybes." This would not include the many children, of course, and I counted them in the above list.

*Notable absences from this list include Caren, Jennifer's mom, who was sick; by extension Caren's husband Ron -- both of them had come last year -- and also Uncle Paul, Jennifer's dad; Sarah; Paul's husband; and Braxton and Sarita, the two children they still have at home. I could swear to God I saw at one point that Sarah had responded they were coming; I now can't even find her or Uncle Paul on the invite list. It's making me wonder, for the first time as I write this, if something went down between them to get them un-invited? God only knows with that family. It's only occurring to me just now that they actually never once came up in conversation the entire evening of the party, which is somewhat odd. Completely independent of all that outright conjecture, quite frankly, I was relieved they did not show up, for a multitude of reasons -- from Uncle Paul's own potential behaviors to those of their developmentally disabled older boy, Braxton. To be fair the thing with Braxton is through no fault of his own, but I would be lying if I said I didn't prefer not to have that kid around. He can get quite unruly, which is especially problematic now that he's a young adult with a quite large physical presence. (He's standing in the back in the purple T-shirt in this family photo from last year's family reunion.)

*The other notable absence is my own husband, which is more the result of his capacity for holding petty political grudges indefinitely than any other reason. It drives me crazy how he doesn't see that such attitudes only drives wedges deeper between people, and does literally nothing to make things better going forward. Still, this has been his attitude the entire two years since the 2016 election. Eric, who is such a nice guy that it can annoy even Jennifer (she said to me specifically at one point, "He's a nice guy and sometimes even that annoys me"), was always known to be conservative; Jennifer has long been pretty liberal and actually still is, but refused to vote for Hillary Clinton because -- and these are her words, said directly to me, on one of the very few occasions we had anything approximating a conversation about it -- "I just think she's a bitch." That's an insane reason for voting for something as transparently god-awful as President Fuckwit, but, whatever. Jennifer and I, because we care about each other, now simply actively avoid discussing it. Shobhit, who does not have the family history and therefore cannot understand it, is resentful of my refusal to challenge her directly about it. (She knows perfectly well how I feel, trust me.) On both Eric's and Jennifer's parts, they actually seem to have a kind of sweet naiveté about Shobhit, which I'd actually like to preserve as long as I can. It never occurs to them that Shobhit is being so petty, and I find myself finding creative ways to avoid making it that clear. Eric told me that if Shobhit had been coming, he would have made the jalapeño artichoke cheese dip, just for him -- and he didn't make it, only because he knew Shobhit wouldn't be coming. When he asked me directly why Shobhit wasn't there, I just said, "He had other things to do." Jennifer even asked me, "Is Shobhit working?" He was not, but so much was going on at the party when she asked me about it, I quite easily quickly asked her about something totally unrelated, and she never came back to the question again. I love that Jennifer and Eric just assume the best of Shobhit even though in this instance he doesn't exactly deserve it; I rather wish Shobhit were capable of doing the same.

*Now, to be a little fairer to Shobhit, there are other reasons he has little interest in coming to something like this, totally independent of all that petty bullshit: he would never be interested in staying overnight, which I always like to do; he only barely tolerates my insistence on staying overnight at Dad and Sherri's every Christmas Eve, and he has nothing especially against either of them. When he's visiting family with me, though, he gets bored easily around all these people he doesn't know quite as well as I do, and invariably he wants to go home earlier than I do. (There are some people he particularly enjoys hanging out with, though -- he does enjoy Dad and Sherri's company; and he's especially fond of Gina and Beth.) Jennifer and Eric's parties actually exacerbate these issues, with far more people he doesn't know at all; he and Jennifer's one black friend would be the only ones there who are not white, and far more significantly, he would be the only person who was an immigrant, not American-born, surrounded by a large number of conservatives, many of whom, while generally still nice people, almost certainly would not understand half the stuff he said when he tried to talk to them because of his accent. Whether the people there are malicious or not (and for the most part I would argue they are not), it's simply not a comfortable environment for him. Shobhit just seems to think all that other petty bullshit gives him a more convenient excuse, although it really has the opposite effect. And further beyond all that, there's simply the issue of his getting out of the way for Jennifer and me to have our own quality time together -- usually when I visit there, even Eric deliberately leaves us alone to hang out; he was more actively involved here being one of the hosts of his big party.

*Gina and Beth actually came to last year's party, even bringing Beth's sister visiting from out of town; they were also absent this year, although that wasn't really a huge surprise. Gina and Jennifer hardly ever become much more than acquaintances to each other, and I was honestly kind of surprised they showed up last year. They may yet come to a future party, though.

*Before this party started, I knew 16 people on this year's list. After getting to know a few more of them, once the party ended, I knew about twenty of them.

The party was published on the Facebook event page as beginning at 6:00, but I arrived at about 3:15. I left home at 1:30 with the intent of getting there by 3:00, as Jennifer said she would be home from work between 3 and 6, and this would give me time to finish up my costume, which still had some time and labor-intensive stuff to do. This was after Shobhit and I woke up fairly early Saturday morning, and we agreed we would finally go eat breakfast together at one of Capitol Hill's most popular brunch places, Glo's on Olive Way. He had taken himself there after dropping me off super-early at the Bolt Bus stop in the International District that day in August that I went to visit Ivan in Vancouver, and he discovered it to be worthy of its reputation, and talked about going back with me sometime -- preferably as early as possible, as you cannot make reservations and the wait can be long. When we got there at maybe 8:45 a.m., the stated wait time was between 30 and 45 minutes. We probably waited about forty, and then we split the "American Benedict," only because Shobhit insisted you can't really taste the avocado they put on it, and I didn't want to get the volume or spend the money for two separate full dishes. Of course, Shobhit says this as someone who loves avocado -- and, to be fair, had I been blindfolded, I probably indeed would not have even realized there was avocado on it. On the other hand, I only found it to be all right, rather than delicious, and I am convinced I would have far preferred another vegetarian benedict that did not have avocado. But, I did this for him and to save money. (Side note: when we had an argument recently, Shobhit tried insisting that I never compromise for him. I guess I'll put this on the list I can use to prove him wrong!) They did say we had to order a side or else have a $2 surcharge for sharing a dish, which I thought was bullshit, but whatever.


In years past, I have taken the ferry to Bremerton first, and then driven to Shelton down Highway 3 on the Olympic Peninsula side of the Puget Sound. This cuts the actual drive time down to slightly less than an hour, and allows for the first hour to be a pleasant ferry ride during which I don't have to do any driving -- but, it also adds to the entire travel time, and costs something like $17 each way on the ferry. I decided to save both the money and the time and drive down I-5 and then back up Highway 101 to Shelton, which took about an hour and 45 minutes, hence my arrival at 3:15. So actually that was an extended drive time due to some spots of thick traffic, and probably roughly matches the travel time had I taken the ferry -- maybe still a bit less if you factor in getting to the ferry terminal early and the wait time. In any case I listened to music and the time passed fairly quickly; that last half hour or so driving from Olympia to Shelton went especially quickly. And I even would have arrived by 3:10, except I stopped at the locally iconic Shelton "Big Wheel" that greets arrivals driving into town -- it had been a while since I drove into Shelton from the south again, and I hadn't stopped to get pictures of that spot since 2010, when I took myself there for Jennifer and Eric's wedding. I want to say it used to be a lot easier to see views down into town from that spot, but the trees there are now so large that they mostly obscure the view. Still, there are small spots where you can see down to the water, and I took a few pictures, which start out the full photo set on Flickr that I have for this past Saturday's Halloween party.


So now I'll tell you about some of the more fun things at the party, starting with Dad and Sherri's spectacular costumes. They walked in as the Queen of Hearts and the Mad Hatter.

I think they are probably the only people who came and had rented their costumes. Presumably this saved them a lot of work and a lot of time. I can't imagine how much they spent; I only know that, according to Dad, Sherri had decided she wanted to rent a costume, and when Dad decided that he would do the same, he was disappointed to discover the cost of his was double that of Sherri's -- because hers was machine washable and his included a surprisingly nice jacket with tails that would have to be dry cleaned. Either way, they looked great, and shortly before they left, Sherri said she wanted to use the bathroom first, and then jokingly asked me if I wanted to get a picture of her "on the throne." I laughed and said, "You want me to? I totally will!" I mean, of course she is fully clothed in the picture, but we both still thought it was pretty funny. I even had her scoot closer to the wall so it was easier to tell she was sitting on a toilet. She was laughing so hard about it she said she was about to pee her pants, which I thought was kind of hilarious itself, given the circumstances.

And then, of course, there was my costume, which I will repeat again at work (and wherever I may go that evening) on the actual date of Halloween: "BE THE CHANGE." I posted a selfie when I was done with it that got very positive responses on Facebook and on Instagram, but Eric later got his own photo of me from a bit further away that is both a far better picture of me (a big, genuine smile) and a better shot, showing the few coins I put even on my pants. More than one person at the party commented on how creative it was, included Dad; I even won "Most Creative" costime once votes were counted -- and who won Best Costume and 2nd prize for Best Costume? Dad and Sherri! All three prize winners were from everyone present from my immediately family.

So now, a few more background details about my Halloween costume, which I feel combines the best intentions behind a couple past "costumes" to become one of the best I think I have ever thought of. As in, for a few years now (and especially after Shobhit, Barbara and I dressed as KISS in 2008, with spectacular results but holy shit was it a pain in the ass, a level of effort I never wanted to have to make again, my goal has always been "simple and clever." I think this year's costume absolutely qualifies, although I wasn't quite certain, until just this past Friday, how easily I might pull it off.

Now, I have done similar things for Halloween twice before, basically turning myself either into a walking pun or just covered in a bunch of small things I affixed to my body. It was the latter idea I employed in 1999, when I walked around with fake webbing in my hair and little plastic spiders stuck all over my body -- including a couple on my face, which I had affixed, quite stupidly, with rubber cement. I wound up with a couple small scabs on my face from that. The other year was in 2007 when I walked around with a string of Christmas bell decorations wrapped around my body and told everyone "I'm here with bells on!" That one wasn't actually quite as successfully as I wanted it to be, but this year's idea proved much more clever and popular.

Beyond those obvious comparisons, there were also more subtle things about this year's costume that probably only occurred to me, but which I still liked about it very much. At first I had thought I would wear an all-black outfit so that the change would show better against a black background. Except, for pretty much every year between 1995 and, say, 2005, I wore all-black nearly every day. It was something I became known for. But, in the years since, I steadily shifted to much preferring the existence of far more color in my wardrobe. So, if I was literally to demonstrate the sentiment behind the phrase "Be the change you want to see in the world" (typically misattributed to Gandhi, but the sentiment still works; it's something I have long taken to heart, platitude as it might be), it wouldn't make sense to throw back to what my behavior was before I changed. It therefore would make much more sense for my outfit to embody the sentiment, and so I wore the brown jeans and orange polo shirt -- also, as it happens, colors appropriate for both autumn and Halloween. In any case, I really like it when things I do have multiple layers of meaning.

Having no idea how easy it would be to find such a thing, on Friday evening, while Shobhit and I did other grocery shopping at both QFC and Costco, he had picked me up at the end of the day at work and suggested I just look for Halloween costume stores that might be along the way we were driving. I had assumed I would wind up at Display & Costume in Northgate to look for what I needed, and on Yelp as I searched it brought up several thrift stores that always reliably sell Halloween stuff but never a huge variety and certainly not specialized in the way that I particularly needed: I wanted to find some kind of adhesive that would be save to use on fabric and not ruin my clothes. And this was how I found the store that proved to be exactly what I was looking for: Joann's Fabrics. Luckily that actually came up when I searched "Halloween" on Yelp.

As soon as I walked in, I asked an employee where I could find something that I could safely use to stick coins to my outfit. She led me to an area with a bunch of adhesive type products, some of them far too expensive. Finally, partly at Shobhit's suggestion, I grabbed a small roll of double-sided fabric adhesive tape that cost me all of about six bucks; in the end, it proved to work extraordinarily well -- only twice did I hear a coin fall off of me, after walking around with them stuck to me for about seven hours; and at least once it was one of the dimes I had stuck to my earrings, so they weren't even stuck to fabric. I honestly figured I would have to deal with some amount of loss at the end of the evening, and to my complete surprise, once I had finished with the relatively painstaking process of peeling the coins off of myself and then also scraping the tape off of the coins, I still had exactly as much money as I had started with.

And how much money was that, you might ask? I had multiple people ask me on Saturday "How much are you worth?" Ten dollars. As for the variety of coins, this was also due to Shobhit's influence, as my first instinct was to go strictly with quarters. Instead, when we stopped at US Bank on our way back from Glo's on Saturday morning, I exchanged $10 for $5 in quarters (that being 20 of them); $3 in dimes (30 of them); and $2 in nickels (40 of them). This did provide a nice variety of sizes all over my person, thereby giving a much more literal representation of typical "change." I did refuse to use pennies, explaining to at least one person that pennies are basically worthless.

I did make my crown of coins out of only quarters, mostly because quarters are bigger and have more surface area on which to affix adhesive substance -- particularly to a crown made out of a re-bent wire hanger. (A third throwback to a long-ago Halloween costume I once used! I did the same for my "Bad Karma Boy" costume in 2000, although that had been combined with a headband with straight components.) I realized almost immediately that the adhesive tape would work perfectly for just sticking to my clothes -- and even four coins stuck directly to my skin, a far safer thing to use than rubber cement -- but had been slightly unsure about it working for the crown of coins. Still, I managed to get fourteen quarters stuck to the hanger, albeit at often haphazard angles, but that was okay; it still worked.

As such, this year's costume cost me all of about $16 -- ten of that basically borrowed and later spent on something else, so really in the long run it only cost me $6. Maybe a little more in the end, given that I'll be walking around with the coins stuck to me for many more hours on the 31st, and that means there will be more opportunity to lose some, but it'll probably not be that big a difference, the adhesive works so well. I will have to put all the coins on my shirt on Tuesday night next week, though, as that task will be far too time-consuming to do the morning of Halloween before coming to work. Anyway, granted it's hard to beat the zero dollars I spent last year to become a fairy princess using all components from previous years' costumes, but six bucks is still pretty damned cheap. Hell, even sixteen bucks is.

That said, there was a minor amount of misunderstanding. Although one of them did also tell me my outfit was creative, there was a couple of people who said I was "getting political" with my costume. Since when is alluding to a positive statement attributed to Mahatma Gandhi "getting political"? Jesus Christ -- at the risk of sounding like an elitist snob with a superiority complex (which means I am about to say something superior and elitist), I need to go to parties with better-educated people. On the other hand, I really should also be fair about this: conservative people who know full well how liberal I am are far more likely to have any reference to "change" remind them of Obama's far more recent "Change You Can Believe In" slogan. To be clear, though, if that were actually what I was going for, my sign would not have said BE THE CHANGE; it would have said CHANGE YOU CAN BELIEVE IN, and I would have told everyone, "I'm change you can believe in!" It made more sense to me, though, that having change all over my body would mean I was being the change -- you know, the change I want to see in the world. Which would include money. Who doesn't want money?

James's little nephew Kellan certainly does. I was talking to Dad in the kitchen and that little boy, dressed as Darth Vader, walked right up to me and just said, "Can I have some money?" No, you cannot!

James, by the way, also dressed as a funny pun. So did Toni. He was wearing a medal around his neck and had a loaf of bread in his hands and called himself "The Bread Winner." Toni had a giant paper chip on her shoulder. Their oldest kid, Hayden, is in his late teens now and didn't want to come, but they did bring their two younger kids, Kylar and Thayer, who dressed in animal pajamas. I got a nice family portrait of them all.

Other favorite costumes included Chase as Bob Ross; a friend of Jennifer and Eric's as Judge Judy; and Jennifer and Eric themselves looked pretty good as a couple of Pirates. Those were from bagged costumes bought at a Halloween supply store, but Jennifer did do a pretty good job of the eye makeup on her own. She even had me come hang out with her in her master bathroom as she used a YouTube tutorial to do it. Jennifer has a shit ton of makeup in there, but she didn't like my taking pictures of it; I did get one picture but it's not public on Flickr -- you can only see if it you are on my Flickr friends list and view the photo set while logged in.

Anyway, it was a good time. I drank a lot, as expected, but evidently spread out too long a time -- I had on cocktail Eric made for me before Jennifer even got home from work, called an Exhibitionist; two glasses of Jennifer's Apple Pie Sangria; at least three shots of Captain Morgan "Jack-o-Blast" pumpkin rum; and one shot of the truly horrible Captain Morgan "Apple Smash" rum, which Jennifer's work friend Audra declared tasted like nail polish remover but Jennifer insisted "It's not that bad." Turned out Audra was right. Oh, and Jennifer also made me a much better shot using just a tiny bit of the Apple Smash mixed with Buttershots, theorizing that it would taste like a caramel apple. It tasted mostly like the Buttershots so that one was still tasty.

I only got moderately buzzed for a minute or two, far from drunk. I actually tried a glass of the Strawberri Daiquiri from Eric's frozen cocktail machine, but it wasn't working right to actually freeze what otherwise had been correctly mixed. Some people just drank them on the rocks, but I could not hack the daiquiri one in liquid form as it just tasted way too syrupy. I avoided the margarita side only because I was mixing alcohols too much as it was with the wine in the Apple Pie Sangria and then the rum -- the rum being the reason I only tried the daiquiri. So, that glass I actually dumped out.

Beyond that, my biggest problem was just grazing so much food -- I ate countless chips and salsa, and cheese and crackers, and three small cupcakes. All that on top of the two soft tacos I ate as actual dinner, which were surprisingly tasty. That included the blended black and refried beans provided for both the vegan Hope and for the vegetarian me; there was otherwise a huge vat of meat and beans blended together. There was one moment where the boiling corner of those meat and beans had Jennifer temporarily freaked out because at first glance it looked to her like the flapping wings of a moth, which one of the cats had been chasing earlier.

Speaking of the cats, for several years Jennifer and Eric had six of them in that huge house of theirs. Now they have . . . five. Three of the original six are now gone: Brownie, who Jennifer had way back in college (she started as a Freshman in 1997; got her own place in 1998), died of old age; her beloved part-Persian named Caesar disappeared; and they put Fudge down earlier this year because she could not be stopped from peeing everywhere and all the local No Kill shelters were full and would not take her. Now they have Eve and Roary, both of them purebred Savannahs only a few months old, so they are still small, kitten-sized, but are expected eventually to be huge. Like, nearly a foot and a half tall -- I want to say I was told that these two cats are, respectively, "F3" and "F4," each number being a step further away from wild. They are also very expensive -- the exact cost has been something Jennifer holds very close to her chest, although Eric actually told me before she got home on Saturday how much she spent. Suffice it to say, it was a lot. (Average costs are also listed on that Savannah breed page.) I know more than one person who will likely be very judgmental about Jennifer's interest in pure breeds, which Jennifer would no doubt get very defensive about, but my thought on either side of that argument is basically: whatever. I'll be interested in seeing these cats once they are full grown either way. Jennifer tells me they have only been bred since the nineties and so they don't have the typical health problems of other purebred cats. That said, if they are so close to wild animals genetically, that presumably could bring a host of other potential problems. But, again: whatever. Jennifer can do whatever she wants, she always has, and she's certainly not going to make an exception here.

Either way, I do kind of think having too many cats makes it a little easier to be sort of callous about them -- such as putting one down because it pees too much. With just the two cats I have, I would be apt to make a far greater effort at finding a solution to the problem, rather than getting rid of it for fear of the behavior negatively affecting another, much more exotic and expensive animal I want to get. But then, I have always refused to get purebred animals anyway, considering the countless mutts that need loving homes. (To be clear, though: I get far less emotional about euthanizing animals for the sake of population control than many others tend to. If a particular area is overrun with strays, it's far more practical to put them down than to try finding them all homes. Spaying and neutering programs are also a good idea though, and I would advocate for that before euthanasia.)

I think that covers most of what I might want to say about Saturday. I did wind up going out for breakfast yesterday with Jennifer and Eric. This was after I had already told Jennifer that I had hoped not to spend any money while away for the weekend, but it wasn't the end of the world if I went out for breakfast anyway. I almost certainly would have paid for my own meal had just Jennifer and I gone, but Eric came too, and he predictably paid for us all. I thanked him, of course, and now I did still manage the entire trip without spending any money -- not even on ferry rides.

I spent plenty otherwise. I drove out of Shelton at about noon yesterday, and Shobhit took a bus to Kent Station, where we met at about 1:20, after some confusion because they called both the bus stop and the adjacent huge shopping center Kent Station, and my GPS actually took me to the latter. I finally met Shobhit at the Chevron nearby, and we then went to the Indian grocery store in Kent, to get supplies for the dinner this coming Saturday will be hosting with Scott and Noah from work, with Scott's wife and Noah's family as well. That alone cost me $144. We then drove into Seattle, stopping at the Columbia City PCC, where we did some more shopping there; we also got ourselves a couple of slices of Olympic Pizza from the store's pizza counter, and ate them at an outside table so Shobhit would get a Social Review point for the day. (This is totally cheating, but I allow it to make him happy.)

My weight this morning was predictably up significantly, once again up past 154 lbs -- I'm making a concerted effort not to graze at work today. I had eggs benedict for breakfast again yesterday morning, not nearly as fancy but far more delicious with its tomato and spinach rather than avocado. They did really get slaphappy with the hollandaise sauce on that dish, which I mixed in with my hash browns. Presumably it was a high-calorie meal, as was the pizza Shobhit and I split at home for dinner, to make room for the massive amount of frozen products we now have barely crammed into that fairly small bottom-draw freezer. Maybe one of these days we should look into replacing that thing with a side-by-side refrigerator/freezer so we can actually store our often large volumes of frozen items more easily. That drawer thing is kind of a pain in the ass. Of course, so is the traditional family Christmas gift of the fruitcake, currently in our possession, taking up a pretty good amount of the limited available space in there. I can't wait to get rid of it, for at least one more year, this Christmas.


[posted 12:15 pm]